Irish trio aiming for strong start to British season
It has been a speedy turnaround for three of Ireland's top drivers as they set up camp in Wales this weekend for the start of the British Rally Championship.
After all three finished in the top six of the Galway International last Sunday, Josh Moffett, Desi Henry and Jonny Greer had only a couple of days to have their cars switched from tarmac to gravel specification before they were transported to Llandudno for the Cambrian Rally and the next leg of their two-pronged championship attack.
Having collected important points in the opening round of the Irish Tarmac series they are aiming to follow up with a strong start to the British Championship before both premier competitions head back across the Irish Sea for the West Cork Rally next month.
First, they have to take on the reigning British champion Matt Edwards on his home patch.
Winner of the Ulster Rally on his way to the title last season, Edwards is from Llandudno and starts as firm favourite in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 but the Irish trio will be content if they can challenge for the podium places in the Welsh forests.
Marty McCormack opted to skip the trip to Galway to concentrate on the British series and he is the highest seeded of the Irish contingent at No.6 in his R5 Skoda Fabia with Moffett, the reigning Irish forest champion, at No.7 ahead of Henry and Greer.
Surprisingly the entry list is headed by Chilean brothers, Pedro and Alberto Heller, in a pair of M-Sport Fiestas with Edwards at three and fellow Welshman Tom Cave at four and Scot David Bogie at five.
Irish drivers are also strongly represented in the Junior category with William Creighton, James Wilson, Josh McErlean, Marty Gallagher and Jordan Hone all potential contenders in their little R2 category cars.
Meanwhile, Kris Meeke had an early 'wake up' call ahead of last night's ceremonial start to Rally Sweden.
Having talked of the dangers of the snowbanks in pre-rally interviews, the Dungannon driver buried his Toyota in one of them during the shakedown stage and had to be helped back onto the road by spectators.
But he responded in typical fashion, setting fourth fastest time on his next run as Hyundai's Thierry Neuville, last year's winner in Sweden, set quickest time ahead of Meeke's Toyota team-mate Ott Tanak and the Citroën of World champion Sebastien Ogier.